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Environmental sustainability

We recognise that, as a global business, we need to rise to the challenges and opportunities of environmental sustainability by continually improving our environmental performance.

Our vision

“To contribute to improving the environmental sustainability of the legal sector by implementing best practice in operational management”

Our management framework, ambition, enthusiasm and data are shared across our international network. We work closely with our people, service partners, clients and external stakeholders to make a difference to the world around them. We are executive members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance (LSA); a collective effort by law firms in the UK to take action to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations and activities. We support the UK Legal Renewables Initiative, and are committed to procuring 100% renewable electricity for our UK offices by 2025.

Our integrated energy and environmental management system

Our approach is underpinned by our ISO 14001 (UK & Netherlands) and ISO 50001 (Netherlands) certified environmental and energy management systems. The scope of our management systems are:

  • UK - “Provision of buildings engineering, facilities management and front of house services at Allen & Overy in London and Belfast”
  • Netherlands - “The provision of business services in the areas of catering, cleaning, security, reception, document management and reproduction and building management at Allen & Overy in Amsterdam”

Our environmental performance

 During the year the firm continued to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainability by supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action, and announcing a Science Based Target (SBT) to reduce our carbon footprint from both Scope1/2 and Scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2030 against a 2019 baseline. Going forward, we will report against the wider scope of this target than previous reporting. We purchased Verified Carbon Standard carbon credits and Renewable Energy Certificates/renewable Guarantees of Origin to offset the CO2 from all our residual emissions in 2019. Just under 76% of our global electricity consumption was supplied from renewable sources in 2020.

Just over 57% of our carbon footprint is within the scope of our ISO 14001 and 50001 Environmental and Energy Management Systems at our London, Belfast and Amsterdam offices.  

Our reported global carbon footprint (pre-SBT scope) has decreased from 29,079 tCO2 equivalent (using location based emissions factors* for grid electricity) in calendar year 2019, to 15,814 tCO2 equivalent in calendar year 2020. This decrease of 46% must be seen in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and the unprecedented impact on our business travel and buildings related emissions. However, over the year employee numbers and occupied floor space increased by 3% globally.

Our carbon footprint has therefore reduced on an absolute, per capita and per unit area basis. 

The most significant reason for our reduced carbon footprint is reduced air travel (-76%), reduced electricity consumption (-8%) and reduced natural gas consumption (-24%). 
Taking into account our consumption of renewable electricity (using market based emissions factors* for grid electricity) our carbon footprint was 8,882 tCO2 equivalent.
*following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 guidance

Our emissions reduction targets

We’ve set ambitious and independently assessed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The targets will see the firm reduce by 50% its absolute annual global carbon emissions by 2030 from a base year of 2019. 

The approval from SBTi confirms that the new commitment is consistent with the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement, with the firm’s reductions in line with those required to keep global warming to 1.5°C which, according to the latest climate science, is what is needed to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change. 

The approved targets will address the direct carbon emissions made by the firm and its people globally as well as the indirect emissions from its worldwide supply chain and the goods it purchases.

*following the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 guidance

View our policy statements